Buying used baby gear: What you need to know
Having a baby isn't cheap. Between clothes (baby needs a new wardrobe every three months?!?) and gear, it can get pretty pricey. It's tempting to purchase gently used items to help keep costs low. But before you maneuver that like-new honey pine convertible crib into your car, there are some things you need to know.
Money-savvy parents know that consignment stores, garage sales, Goodwill stores and web-based sites like Freecycle, Craigslist's free section, eBay and Zwaggle can be hot beds for low-cost, high-quality baby necessities.
But buying used isn't always the way to go. Some items are better bought new for safety reasons. "To play it even safer, make sure any used baby product you're considering or hasn't been recalled. (For the latest recall information, visit recalls.gov.) When buying new, send in the registration card so you'll be alerted to any recalls automatically," says Sandra Gordon, author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products.
Research is extremely important, agrees design expert Kathy Peterson. She also suggests checking the condition of the items.
Baby gear: Crib
The baby needs a place to sleep.
Should you buy used?
Probably not. "If you must [buy] an older crib, avoid those built before 2000, about a year after the latest voluntary standards for slat-attachment strength took effect," Gordon says.
BABY GEAR: clothes
Yes. "Used baby clothing is a great way to save money if [it's] in good condition," Peterson says. Look for end of season sales at consignment stores to stock up on seasons for next year.
BABY GEAR: Play yard
Play yards have some good bonuses: they are portable and can go to anywhere. Many also come with bassinet attachments, so it can be a good first bed for baby.
Like cribs, play yards have changed with the evolving knowledge of what's safe. "Older, used models may have a top-rail hinge that can collapse, forming a steep, V-shaped angle that puts children at risk of being trapped or strangled," Gordon says.
BABY GEAR: Car seats
Kids from birth through grades school need to be safe while riding in the car.
No. "A used seat may have been in a crash or recalled. The manufacturer's instructions may be missing. If you must use a secondhand seat, avoid those … that are older than 6 years. In the world of car seats, a 6-year-old model is a relic—and risky," Gordon says.
BABY GEAR: Breast pumps
You are likely to need one if you are going to be breastfeeding for an extended period and will need to be away from baby for any length of time.
Never. "Using a preowned pump is like sharing someone else's toothbrush. It's unhygienic," Gordon says.
Rentals are an option, but if you are going to need one for more than a month or two, it's more cost-effective to buy.
BABY GEAR: Infant carriers
Not everyone uses these, but they are handy when you are out and about and don't want to use a stroller.
You can, but make sure you do your research. "Strap-on carriers and slings have been subject to recalls, so buy new to ensure that you're carrying your baby safely," Gordon said.
BABY GEAR: Toys
Should you buy used?
Definitely. Look for clean, gently used toys. Always wash them before handing over to baby.
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